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Brazil's Sceptical President Jair Bolsonaro Contracts Coronavirus, Says Taking Anti-malarial Drug HCQ

File photo of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. (Reuters)

File photo of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. (Reuters)

The right-wing populist leader has repeatedly defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public, even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June.

  • Agencies
  • Last Updated: July 7, 2020, 11:24 PM IST
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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday he had tested positive for the coronavirus but said he was feeling "perfectly well" and had only mild symptoms.

Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia. "I'm well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can't due to medical recommendations," he said.

The right-wing populist, who has played down the severity of the virus which he has called a "little flu", took the test on Monday after developing symptoms.

In the interview broadcast on state-run TV Brasil, Bolsonaro said he began feeling ill on Sunday and has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug with unproven effectiveness against COVID-19.

Brazil has the world's second-largest outbreak behind the United States. Latin America's largest country has more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Cities and states in Brazil last month began lifting restrictions that had been imposed to control the spread of the virus, as their statistical curves of deaths began to decline along with the occupation rate of its intensive-care units.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly defied local guidelines to wear a mask in public even after a judge ordered him to do so in late June. Bolsonaro has also railed against social distancing rules supported by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Over the weekend, Bolsonaro attended several events and was in close contact with US Ambassador Todd Chapman during July 4 celebrations. Pictures showed neither wearing a mask.

The US embassy in Brasilia said via Twitter on Monday that the ambassador had lunch on July 4 with Bolsonaro, five ministers and the president's son, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro. The ambassador had no symptoms, but would undergo testing and is "taking precautions," the embassy said.

Bolsonaro tested negative in March for the coronavirus after several aides were diagnosed following a visit to U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago, Florida, estate.

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